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Los Angeles in Los Angeles County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
 

The Founding of USC

 

— USC — University of Southern California —

 
The Founding of USC Interpretive Panel image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, November 29, 2018
1. The Founding of USC Interpretive Panel
Inscription.  Los Angeles was a rough and tumble frontier town in the 1870s, when a group of public-spirited citizens first dreamed of establishing a university in the region. Led by Judge Robert Maclay Widney and members of the region’s Methodist Episcopal Conference, those who were eager for the region to advance enthusiastically supported the idea. Twice during the decade, prominent citizens came through with land for the new university, but both times the donors died before the transactions could be carried out. A faltering economy further delayed the project. But during the last years of the decade, the economy began to improve, and the Methodist Episcopal Conference revived in earnest its plans for a university in Southern California.

In 1879, three civic leaders—Ozro W. Childs, a Protestant horticulturalist; John G. Downey, h Irish-Catholic pharmacist who had served as governor of California from 1860 to 1862; and lsaias W. Hellman, a German-Jewish banker and philanthropist—deeded 308 lots to the Board of Trustees, located in an area designated “West Los Angeles,” near the intersection of Figueroa Street and Exposition
The Founding of USC Interpretive Panel image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, November 29, 2018
2. The Founding of USC Interpretive Panel
Boulevard. Sales of the lots were to create an endowment to provide seeds of financial support for the institution. A portion of the land, located within the original land grant establishing "El Pueblo de la Reina (Reyna) de Los Angeles," was to be reserved for the actual campus.

Some 1,000 people—10 percent of the population of Los Angeles—turned out on September 4, 1880 to witness the laying of the cornerstone for USC’s first building. By the time that building (now known as Widney Alumni House) opened its doors, many of these people had joined Childs, Downey and Hellman as USC's first benefactors. Judge Widney was the first president of the USC Board of Trustees, and the Rev. Marion McKinley Bovard was the university’s first president.
 
Erected 1996 by USC History Project, USC General Alumni Association. Sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. L.E. Pete Peterson.
 
Location. 34° 1.286′ N, 118° 17.084′ W. Marker is in Los Angeles, California, in Los Angeles County. Marker is on Trousdale Parkway north of Hellman Way, on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Los Angeles CA 90089, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. First Meeting of the USC Board of Trustees (within shouting distance of this marker); Campus Life (within shouting
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distance of this marker); An International University (within shouting distance of this marker); Ceasar Estrada Chavez (within shouting distance of this marker); A Changing Campus (within shouting distance of this marker); The Trojan Column (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Student Musical Traditions (about 300 feet away); A Gathering Place (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Los Angeles.
 
More about this marker. This panel shows a timeline from 1870 to 2000 marking when the plan for the university was conceived, when the university dedication takes place and when classes begin. It has a number of illustrations (clockwise from top left) beginning with a photographic portrait of Robert M. Widney; a stereograph of “USC’s first building, today’s Widney Alumni House;” a newspaper advertisement announcing the university’s opening; a portrait of Marion McKinley Bovard; a plot of West Los Angeles captioned, “Childs, Hellman and Downey’s initial give of 308 lots spawned additional gifts of land from other civic-minded Southern Californians;” and portraits of USC’s first donors, John G. Downey, Isaias W. Hellman, and Ozro W. Childs.
 
Also see . . .  The Era of the Founders. “Widney was instrumental in a number of advances in Southern California. He helped bring the Southern Pacific Railroad to Los Angeles, establish the city’s first horse-drawn trolley and organize the first chamber of commerce. He also helped form the Los Angeles County Bar Association and incorporate the city’s first light and power company. When the University of Southern California was founded, largely through his perseverance, he was elected the first president of its board of directors and was one of the original trustees of the endowment fund.” (Submitted on February 19, 2019.) 
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Categories. Education
 

More. Search the internet for The Founding of USC.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on February 19, 2019. This page originally submitted on February 19, 2019, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. This page has been viewed 63 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on February 19, 2019, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.
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